Author's School

Brown School of Social Work

Author's Department/Program

Social Work


English (en)

Date of Award

January 2009

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Melissa Jonson-Reid


Foster care placement is an important child welfare service to protect children from further maltreatment. However, high problem behavior rates among foster youth have been a great concern. Significant limitations in the current knowledge examining the role of foster care placement in later problem behavior exist. This study seeks to increase knowledge about the potential role of foster care placement in problem behavior: juvenile delinquency, runaway, teen pregnancy, and truancy) among foster care youth, based on ecological problem solving model. Research questions are: 1) does foster care placement predict problem behavior among children who received foster care compared to those receiving Family Preservation Service? 2) what aspects of foster care placement are associated with problem behavior? This study uses the sample from a larger longitudinal study investigating the life course of children involved with child welfare services in a Midwestern metropolitan area. The sample consists of children who experienced foster care placement, as well as a comparison group of children who had records of Family Preservation Service, but no foster care. All subjects were born between 1982 and 1994 and they were followed for the present study through 2006. For research question 1, the foster care group was divided into those who had foster care only and those with both foster care and FPS. Propensity score methods were used to make the groups comparable. Survival analyses found that foster care placement is associated with increased risk of juvenile delinquency, runaway, and teen pregnancy. However, the likelihood of the problem behavior was fully or partially offset by having Family Centered Services. Survival analyses of research question 2 found that foster care characteristics, such as placement for other reasons in addition to prior maltreatment, being older at first entry into foster care, staying in therapeutic setting for the first and the last placement, higher number of placement changes, and high number of foster cares spell predicted increased risk of one or multiple types of problem behavior. The constellation of variables and foster care characteristics varied for different outcome behaviors with the exception that FCS appeared consistently associated with reduced risk.


Permanent URL: